I’m A Backer… of my Backers
Last week I had no new projects to scream from the rooftops about. In a sad exception to the rule, I had to interrupt my long running segment on projects I thought were too awesome not to share, and instead offer a look at a tangential concept: why I didn’t recommend any of the projects I’m backing. This week I’m forced to do something similar. I want to tell you about a project I am backing, AND about another semi related concept.
This weekend, I’m Backing Cities in the Sky, a documentary on vintage (and often outlandish) science fiction, but by the time you read this post, the donation period of this project will already be complete. Fortunately its last 72 hours was wildly successful and the remaining 25% of the money it needed to fund was raised with about two hours to spare. It was good-looking project, with a decent pitch, good subject matter, and a great track record of backing other projects. The only real flaw it had was that its reward levels were a little bit spendy, taking it well out of the arena of impulse buy and putting it into the realm of cause; you really had to want this project to succeed to give it money. Fortunately I really wanted it to succeed, but not for any of the reasons I listed above.
I backed this project because it’s creator backed mine. Not the best reason you say? Well, that depends.
I have received a dozen spam emails since I started pursuing Kickstarter, especially while The Wardenclyffe Horror was up asking me to give money to their projects. The rational was invariably the same: They really liked my project (but not enough to back it,) they we’re running out of time and needed a last minute boost, or the subject mater was similar and they thought my backers would be interested in both were the most popular ideas. That is the wrong way to do it, and needless to say, none of them got my money.
Kickstarter is a community though, and even an ecosystem, and sometimes sharing the love is exactly the right thing to do.
The right way to do it, if you are going to direct market is to approach people who have a stake in you, in this case SIMILAR projects you have backed (not just any project will do for this,) and lay out your case. Asking for help, or ideas is a great way to broach the issue; asking for direct reciprocation is not. If they like your project then they will help you to the degree they are willing.
If one of your backers ever asks you to help them out in the closing days of their project, feel free to do any of the following (listed from easiest to hardest.)
- Give them a Dollar - A dollar is painless, and does a lot of good. Sure, it’s not going to add up and make the project succeed on it’s own, but the way sites like Kickstarter and Kicktraq measure popularity is linked to the amount of individual donations. 20 people giving a project a dollar lends it a lot of visibility, a not inconsiderable gift in the final days of a project.
- Suggest some places where their audience might be hiding - Even if you don’t want to help directly, letting them know which obscure subreddit would love to hear about this, or which indie news site gave you good results is a hell of a gift to give to a floundering project. The internet is glutted with Kickstarter news these days, and knowing which stone might still be worth turning over is a great way to focus resources in the final days of a project.
- Spread the word - Post about it on Facebook. Tweet about it on Twitter. Blog about it on your blog (if you have one.) If the project is worthwhile, and you don’t spam them, none of your friends will hate you for it. While Wardenclyffe was live, one Facebook mention by an interested stranger scored 6 pledges inside an hour, adding up to almost $200. There is money in them there tweets.
- Reciprocate - If you really like their project, if it is something you might have backed anyway, then give them as much as they gave you previously. Clear the Karmic slate. You won’t just get a widget, you’ve also just scored a supporter for life.
- All of the above (and then some) - Of course, when all else fails, don’t be afraid to try some combination of the above.
I might have backed this project regardless, had I seen it when it was new. I might have backed it regardless if I had read a favorable news article or two, but unfortunately it took direct marketing in its closing days to bring it to my attention. The next time one of your backers needs a hand up, go the extra mile for them, and I think you shall never have cause to regret that you did.
This isn’t to say that you should support projects that you disagree with, or you don’t care for, but in all other cases – help them out. Why? Because if the shoe was on the other foot, you would want them to do the same.